Pedestrians cross the intersection at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo

Tokyo (AFP) - Japan’s capital will launch its own dating app as early as this summer as part of government efforts to boost the plunging national birth rate, a Tokyo official said Tuesday.

Users will be required to submit documentation proving they are legally single and sign a letter stating they are willing to get married.

Stating one’s income is common on Japanese dating apps, but Tokyo will require a tax certificate slip to prove the annual salary.

“We learned that 70 percent of people who want to get married aren’t actively joining events or apps to look for a partner,” a Tokyo government official in charge of the new app told AFP.

“We want to give them a gentle push to find one,” he said.

It’s not unusual for municipalities to organise matchmaking events in Japan, where births dropped to a new low in 2023, but it is rare for a local government to develop an app.

An interview will be required to confirm a user’s identity as part of the registration process for the Tokyo app, which has been on a test run for free since late last year.

Many social media users expressed scepticism over the plans, with one saying, “is this something the government should be doing with our tax?”

Others wrote they were interested as they would feel safer.

Last year Japan recorded more than twice as many deaths as new babies.

Births fell for the eighth consecutive year to 758,631, a drop of 5.1 percent, preliminary government data showed. The number of deaths stood at 1,590,503.

The nation is facing growing labour shortages, and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has promised policies including financial aid for families, easier childcare access and more parental leave.